Barb Comparison
Author: Greg Zenger
What's the advantage of different types of barbs? Read to find out.
Many commercially available water blocks now have different options for hose barbs: Poly, Brass, and Chrome. Aside from the material that they are made from there is one major difference. Itís their shape. What I have done is compared the fit that each type of barb has provided with silicone and a PVC-based tubing (vinyl). Chrome fittings are identical to brass fittings, only they have chrome plating. The fittings are both Ĺ inch OD, and the tubing is Ĺ ID with 1/8" walls.


The Brass barb and Silicone tubing provided the easiest fit. Easy on, easy off. This combination will require hose clamps. This is the combination that is currently being used in my system, and I use zip ties in lieu of hose clamps. I have never had a leak.


The Poly Barb and Silicone tubing provided a much more secure fit. The tubing slid onto the barb without much trouble, but took a little bit of pulling to get off. This combination may not need a hose clamp; however it would be wise to use one just in case.


When the Brass barb and the Vinyl tubing were combined there was a very sturdy fit. The tubing slipped over the barb without much fuss, but was a bit more difficult to remove. Again, this combination may not need any form of hose clamp, however, it would be foolish to skip over such inexpensive insurance.


If you want a permanent setup that will still be intact after taking it sky diving, then Poly barbs and Vinyl tubing should be your choice. It was a bit of a challenge to squeeze the poly barb into the vinyl tubing, and it was nearly impossible to get it out. Using hose clamps with this combination would almost be pointless; this connection is really strong.

If you are a tweaker like me and are constantly making changes to your system, I recommend you use the brass style of barb, or the silicone and Poly combination. The Vinyl and Poly amalgamation would just be too much of a hassle. If you want insurance that you will have a tight, sturdy coolant delivery system, then that may be the way to go, but removing anything is going to bring some frustration.

I have now been able to test the Chrome barbs (identical in shape to the Brass barbs), and I found that both the Silicone and Vinyl tubing slid off just a little bit easier than they did from the brass barbs. My guess as to why this is, is due to the fact that the chrome finish on the Chrome barbs is smoother and less 'grabby' than the brass finish.

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